When asked to compare his group Glue and Sol.illaquists of Sound, two promising hip-hop ensembles dropping new albums in September, Glue rapper Adeem says, "I think we have a very similar message that has to do with a message of hope and activism through your words."
"We have a pretty similar agenda, which is bringing consistently good and powerful messages," says Divinci, who makes the beats for Sol.illaquists of Sound. "We've known each other for a while. ... It's funny how parallel our paths have been as far as the amount of work we've put in and where we are with our careers."
There's one other thing, too. Glue and Sol.illaquists of Sound are socially conscious artists who operate in what Billboard magazine once called a "parallel universe" to the rap world most people are familiar with. Glue is issuing its third effort, Catch as Catch Can, on Fat Beats Records, a top indie-rap imprint. After two albums and a live disc, Sol.illaquists of Sound is putting out As If We Existed on Epitaph Records, one of the biggest independent labels in the country. To promote the albums, Glue and Sol.illaquists of Sound, along with Rhode Island prospect Prolyphic and Orlando duo X:144 and SPS, are embarking on a 40-date "Quit Your Dead End Job" tour.
Though the tour's headliners share an affinity -- "We're like family," says Divinci -- they sound markedly different. Formed in 2002, Sol.illaquists of Sound features MC Swamburger and his wife, principal singer Alexandrah, along with Divinci and his wife, backup singer and poet Tonya Combs. As the group's lead voice, Swamburger forcefully opines on "Black Guy Peace," "What's happening/Can't believe rap done turned to this/Monkey see, monkey make a platinum hit/'Cause niggas nowadays be on some strange fruit shit."
"A lot of things that are said on [As If We Existed] are just straight up someone being honest," says Divinci in defense of Swamburger's lyrics. Asked if the Sol.illaquists have a mission to make issue-based rap music, he responds, "Hell, yeah! It's the same responsibility that we feel we have as human beings, which is, if you know something, you share it."
"They're an intense group of people. They firmly believe that we can change the world," says Adeem of the Sol.illaquists. His group Glue, which formed in 2001, includes producer Maker and turntablist DJ DQ. One song from Catch as Catch Can, "Beat Beat Beat," is patterned after Cut Chemist's "Drums of Fire." The title track, where Adeem fast raps speedily over the beat, is atypical of the album's crunchy boom-bap flavor. He says he tries to vocally compete with the music and attack with an enthusiasm inspired by Big Daddy Kane and Black Thought.
"You have to be able to ride that rhythm and have that rhythm," he says. "I feel like a lot of the mainstream stuff and the corporate shit doesn't have that soul." It's an ironic statement, considering that many music critics and mainstream rap audiences believe indie rap (or, to use a popular epithet, "nerd rap") groups like Glue and Sol.illaquists of Sound are dogmatic, humorless artists with no soul.
"Yeah, that's interesting," says Adeem, laughing. "I've never really come across anybody who's told me that, so I've never really had to have that argument." Then, turning serious, he says, "It seems that people can't put Glue, Bun B and Slim Thug in the same category because it's very different music. But we're kinda reaching from the same original places."
"Hip-hop has really grown considerably compared to where it was 10 years ago. The bigger it gets, the more diverse renditions of hip-hop you're going to get," says Divinci. "We're definitely a hip-hop group ... whether you want to call it underground or whatever. We're definitely not a mainstream hip-hop group. Our audience size is probably telling of that. But I would love to see what we're talking about [become as] widely accepted as mainstream things are."
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